Thursday, February 9, 2012
The Art of Dream Sharing
There are few activities more pleasurable to me than teaching anyone who wants to learn about creating a dream dialogue in their lives and taking it to the level of a spiritual practice. Often a student raises an issue that I want to write about here.
One aspect of Active Dreaming is honoring the dream. Robert's work with indigenous American cultures led him to incorporate this practice in his teaching. It means doing something actively, perhaps creatively, to manifest the energy of the dream in waking reality, thereby respecting the dream dialogue the way one might respects a wise friend's advice.
An obvious thought might be that if I dream of a person I know, I might share that dream with them as a way to honor my dream, right? Yes, but not without a caveat or two.
The art of dream sharing is a delicate matter that needs discernment; I believe it shouldn't be done as a matter of course, for several reasons:
Dreams need digestion. Writing them down paints a picture that evolves as I contemplate it. Unless the dream is uber funny and I know my friend will enjoy the laugh, I don't share it right away.
I want to know what it means to me first. I start, as Robert suggests, with the emotional tone of the dream; how do I feel waking up and how does my dream self feel?
I ask myself when I dream of another,is this the actual person or some aspect or idea about that person that applies to me at the moment? I might want to re-enter the dream, consciously, like a daydream, and talk to that person I recognize and see what they have to say to me. This might help me determine whether I share the dream with the person in waking.
Some dreams can have a negative transference effect when shared, even unintentionally. If in your dream, I'm upset about my hair falling out and you tell me this dream, I might think that cancer treatments cause your hair to fall out. I might worry that I have cancer, unless I'm in touch with my dreams and already have a good handle on what I need to know about my health. If this didn't occur to you before sharing your dream, you really didn't ponder it enough.
It's so easy to project ideas on to others, especially when conveyed in the language of dreams, images. Images stick with you (just ask Madison Ave) and unexplored negative images tend to be icky-sticky, the stuff of icky dreams. I've written a couple of times about how to work with these, so suffice it to say that images of this nature require exploration by the dreamer.
Dreams are in the service of health and healing. Any dream I do consider after pondering may convey a warning about another person's well-being requires me to use great judgment. Is my sharing this with them going to prove helpful to them or cause them anxiety? How can I best help if I feel I should? I may decide to incubate another dream for clarification of what I can do. Perhaps I'll be watchful for an opportunity to present to the person, not necessarily the dream imagery, but some support or suggestions that can be useful and positive. (There's another tool in Active Dreaming called Dream Transference; it's a powerful way to help people deal with difficulties using dream images. I'll save a more detailed description for another post.)
If I don't feel a dream will be immediately helpful, I record it so I have the fresh account, but I don't share it until I feel it can help. And, if I am sharing a dream health warning with another person or if a person shares a dream I suspect may carry one, I'm extremely delicate about probing this possible meaning. I might gently suggest, "If it's my dream, I'd wonder why I'm losing hair. Is this a transition I'm going through? I think I'd like to re-enter my dream and speak with my dream self about what's going on." I would not necessarily bring up cancer and hair loss. I trust a person's intuition to arrive at the conclusion they need from their own consideration of the dream.
Another possibility when I dream of a person I know is that this dream character presages a person I'm going to meet in future waking reality that reminds me of the person I'm dreaming about. Or, perhaps as I've been pondering with you in previous posts, it's an experience I'm having with this person on another level of reality or in the dream reality. In that case, I may want to pursue the relationship on that plane and not necessarily seek to manifest it on this one, unless synchronicity makes it so.
There is nothing wrong with sharing dreams with someone. My husband and I star in each other's dreams regularly and share our dreams often; I choose which dreams I'll share and to what extent, as I'm sure he does, too. I know of dreamers who have shared a dream that meant nothing to them with a colleague or acquaintance they've dreamed about and the dream has carried great meaning for that person in waking. Some message may indeed come through in a timely and beneficial way; we often know through our own intuition when to tell someone a dream. Still, there is a dream diplomacy, an art to sharing and co-working with dreams. That's why I teach and write about Active Dreaming; it has some of the most valuable tools for playing with and honoring dreams individually or with others that I know. I'm blessed to have the opportunity to do this and lucky when a student helps me teach.
(This beautiful photograph was taken by my dear friend, Nancy Hammett, on her visit to the Grand Canyon recently and used with her permission. It's an amazing waking dream scape and I couldn't wait to share it on my blog. Here's a link to her NIA studio: